By Hyun-Jin Im on February 13, 2024

What is SharePoint? Understand Microsoft SharePoint In Plain English


What is SharePoint? What can it do for me? What do I need to know about it? Why should I use it?

Have you found yourself wondering what SharePoint is and what it can do for your organization? You’re not alone! At ProServeIT, our prospects and customers often inquire about what SharePoint is used for. Today, we’re going back to basics to elucidate Microsoft SharePoint's core functionalities and benefits. We’ll discuss what is SharePoint, what you need to know about it, the benefits of using it, and how you can get started.

In this blog, you will find: 

🌐 What is SharePoint?

🔑 Key Features of Microsoft SharePoint

🧰 What is SharePoint used for?

🎁 What Are the Benefits of SharePoint?

🆕What's New in Microsoft SharePoint in?

✨ Copilot in SharePoint: A New Era of Content Creation

🔄 SharePoint vs. OneDrive: What's the Difference?

🔄 Is SharePoint the Same as Google Drive?

📝 What Do You Need to Know About SharePoint Licensing?

🏁 Conclusion

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a highly customizable cloud-based content collaboration and management platform that can empower your team to work remotely, collaborate effortlessly, and enhance productivity. Adopted by over 200,000 companies globally, Microsoft SharePoint stands as a prominent content management platform fostering teamwork across the globe.

In layman's terms, SharePoint facilitates managing all your corporate content (from RFIs to marketing materials to financials), crafting websites and company intranets  to keep users updated, orchestrating business processes to automate routine tasks (like workflows), and developing customized apps to bolster your team's productivity.


infographic - 10 Common Use Cases of Microsoft SharePoint

Key Features of Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is a multifaceted tool offering many features. Let's summarize some of the most important ones:

  • 📝 Document Collaboration: Real-time co-authoring allows multiple users to work on a document simultaneously.
  • 🔍 Search: SharePoint provides powerful search features, making finding the content you need amongst your organization's vast amounts of data easy.
  • 📁 Content Management: SharePoint allows for the easy organization and management of documents and content within your organization.
  • 👥 Collaboration Tools: SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and other tools to enhance team collaboration.
  • ⚙️ Workflow Automation: SharePoint Workflows can automate a variety of tasks, saving time and improving efficiency.

What is SharePoint used for?

Before discussing the benefits of SharePoint, we need to establish why you should be using it. Consider the following questions:

☑️ Do your employees work remotely?

☑️ Do your employees often move from one client location or meeting to another?

☑️ Do your employees need access to various devices to do their jobs?

☑️ How are your employees currently accessing the content that they need?

☑️ Do you have customer-facing requirements, like a place to share information, an online catalog, an online Request for Information form, or an online Request for a Quote form that your customers must fill out?

☑️ Do you share documents with your customers often?

☑️ Are you using USBs to transport and work on presentations, requests for information, or marketing collateral?

☑️ Does your staff ever complain that they wish there was an easier way to access your content?

The great news is SharePoint has been designed to address all these questions and many of the benefits we’ll talk about below speak to the most common pain points that we’ve heard from our customers – the requirement for more remote/on-the-go access, moving away from using USBs (which can easily get lost or corrupted), helping your employees become more productive, sharing information and documents with customers, and the need for a customer-facing solution.

SharePoint has several great features built into it, including real-time co-authoring capabilities, high-powered tagging features to make searching for content easier, anywhere-anytime access (all you need is an Internet connection) for any device you use, and powerful integration with your current Microsoft 365 environment, which enables you to be more productive in your day.

Common Use Cases: Uncovering the Potential of Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint transcends beyond a mere collaboration platform. Here's an exploration of its varied use cases:

  1. Document Management and Collaboration: Real-time co-authoring, secure document sharing, and version control encapsulate SharePoint's prowess in fostering collaborative work environments.

  2. Intranet and Communication Portals: Establish intranet sites to disseminate news, updates, and internal communications, promoting a well-informed workforce.

  3. Workflow Automation: Streamline mundane tasks by automating business processes, and enhancing operational efficiency.

  4. Content Management: Organize and manage diverse content efficiently, ensuring seamless access and compliance.

  5. Project Management: Utilize SharePoint for task assignments, progress tracking, and collaborative project management, making project execution more transparent and effective.

  6. Business Intelligence: Harness SharePoint’s business intelligence tools to derive actionable insights from data, aiding informed decision-making.

  7. Custom Applications and Integrations: Build tailor-made applications or integrate with existing systems to extend SharePoint's functionality, meeting unique organizational needs.
  8. External Sharing and Customer Engagement: Engage with customers and external stakeholders by sharing documents securely and gathering feedback through SharePoint’s external sharing features.

  9. Microsoft 365 Integration: Leverage the powerful integration of SharePoint with Microsoft 365 tools to create a holistic work environment that boosts productivity and collaboration.

  10. Mobile Accessibility: Access SharePoint on-the-go through its mobile-friendly interface, ensuring continuous collaboration and content access, regardless of location.

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What Are the Benefits of SharePoint?

As we touched upon above, SharePoint has many benefits built-in. Below, we’ve outlined just three of the key benefits that we’ve found our customers to be most interested in. Want to know about other benefits of using SharePoint in your organization? Our experts are always happy to chat!

1. SharePoint is Secure

Microsoft takes security very seriously. Their Cloud computing operations detect 1.5 million attempts every day to compromise their systems, so they have invested an annual security budget of $1 billion USD.

This emphasis on security pervades every aspect of Microsoft’s business, which includes its SharePoint stack. SharePoint comes with several built-in security features, like the ability to limit who outside your organization can see your content, set permissions on who in your organization has access to certain things, create policies to allow or block certain user behavior, and allow or block your team’s access to content based on their locations.


Keeping SharePoint Secure: What Executives Need to Know About SharePoint Security

SharePoint Tutorial for Beginners – Getting Started with SharePoint

2. SharePoint Helps Organizations Be More Collaborative

SharePoint has been designed to enhance the collaboration experience, especially when it’s paired with other Office 365 apps and services. When deployed as part of Office 365, SharePoint creates a virtual workspace that allows teams to meet, complete tasks, and collaborate with one another.

How, specifically? Here are a few ways that SharePoint can help organizations be more collaborative:

📁 SharePoint allows your documents to reside in one shared place that can be accessed from any device, at any time, provided there is an Internet connection.

📝 It features real-time co-authoring capabilities, enabling multiple employees to work on the same document simultaneously.

🔄 SharePoint always displays the latest version of a document, with an option to revert to an earlier version if necessary.

👥 Team members and leaders can set up individual or group tasks, assign tasks to other team members, and monitor task completion.

🔗 It allows for the revelation of any dependent relationships between tasks.

📆 SharePoint users have access to a shared calendar for effective scheduling.

📓 It provides a shared notebook through OneNote, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

💬 SharePoint offers shared chat functionality through Yammer for effective communication.

🛠️ It includes various other collaboration tools, enhancing teamwork and productivity.

The best thing about SharePoint as a virtual workspace is that you don’t need an IT team to be able to do any of these things – the team leader can set up a collaboration.

3. SharePoint Can Help Automate Mundane Tasks

SharePoint Workflows save you time and effort while also bringing consistency and efficiency to tasks that your organization performs on a regular basis. You can think of SharePoint Workflows as a chain of events that happens after you do something with a document or file in your SharePoint environment. SharePoint can help you automate mundane tasks, like collecting signatures or approvals, tracking statuses on documents, providing notifications if/when something changes, and more.

ProServeIT’s customers typically use the following five commonly used Workflows within their SharePoint environments: Approval Workflows, Status Workflows, Notification Workflows, Automation Workflows, and Custom Workflows. For more information on these workflows, our recent blog can provide some examples of using them in your organization.

sharepoint dashboard at a glance

"But I heard from a colleague who used SharePoint in their last job that SharePoint is hard to use!"

When we bring up SharePoint as a potential solution, a lot of our customers seem to hold a bias against SharePoint – either they’ve dealt with it personally, or they know someone who has, and their experiences haven’t been the smoothest.

Considering that Microsoft is constantly updating its Office 365 suite of products, which includes SharePoint, it’s fair to say that this bias won’t reflect the current SharePoint solution you’ll be using. In fact, in our experience, when we work with an organization that takes the time to plan out its SharePoint implementation properly, gets employee input and buy-in for the project, properly deploys its SharePoint solution, and spends the time and effort to introduce it to their employees the right way, there's absolutely no reason why SharePoint can't be the helpful collaboration tool we’ve described here.

people sharing  sharepoint apps

Still hesitant? Our Quick Migration to SharePoint offer is the perfect place to start. We’ll help you with an on-site meeting that goes over your existing environment, recommendations on structuring your site, tips for leveraging your SharePoint environment, and optional recommendations for future planning. By engaging in this workshop, we can work with you to help your SharePoint deployment be more successful.

Struggling with Collaboration and Content Management?

ProServeIT, as a Microsoft Solutions Partner, can guide your organization through a successful digital transformation. We utilize powerful tools like SharePoint to address your unique needs and elevate your business processes.

Ready for Efficient Workflows and Enhanced Collaboration?

If you're ready to streamline your organization's operations and enhance team collaboration, it's time to discover how SharePoint can be your solution.

Begin Your Digital Transformation Journey Today

Let's Talk →


What's New in Microsoft SharePoint in?

In 2023, SharePoint elevate its offerings with an array of notable features:

  • AI Integration: Utilize Copilot in SharePoint for enhanced content creation and editing, transforming documents or presentations into engaging web pages.
  • Design Enrichment: Unveiling a new Brand Center, SharePoint allows for robust customization ensuring brand consistency across your sites.
  • Video Incorporation: With updated Microsoft Stream web part, enrich SharePoint pages with single or multiple videos, fostering a rich media experience.
  • OneDrive Revamp: Experience a refreshed, faster, and personalized OneDrive that seamlessly integrates with SharePoint, ensuring swift access to files.
  • Microsoft Lists Upgrade: From modernized forms to performance enhancements, Microsoft Lists now operates faster and smarter, ensuring organized workflow and efficient information tracking.
  • Advanced Administration and Security: SharePoint Advanced Management (SAM) introduces overshares policies, while the new cross-tenant content migration feature facilitates smooth transitions during mergers or acquisitions.

Read more about what's new in Sharepoint here

Copilot in SharePoint: A New Era of Content Creation

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital workplaces, the introduction of AI-powered tools like Copilot in SharePoint represents a significant leap forward. This innovative feature is designed to transform the way we interact with and utilize SharePoint for content creation, leveraging advanced AI technologies to streamline processes and enhance productivity.

The Mechanics of Copilot in SharePoint:

At its core, Copilot in SharePoint utilizes Large Language Models (LLMs) to interpret natural language inputs. This means users can describe what they envision for their SharePoint site or page using everyday language, and Copilot will begin to bring this vision to life. This process not only simplifies the initial creation phase but also allows for iterative collaboration between the user and AI to refine and perfect the content.


Integration and Customization:

One of the most notable aspects of Copilot in SharePoint is its deep integration with Microsoft Graph. This connection allows Copilot to access and incorporate a wide range of data from across an organization, ensuring that the content it creates is both relevant and personalized. Furthermore, this tool is designed to adhere to an organization’s branding guidelines automatically, ensuring consistency across all created content.

Streamlining Content Creation:

The introduction of Copilot in SharePoint aims to significantly reduce the time and effort traditionally required to set up and manage SharePoint sites. By automating the initial setup and offering suggestions for improvement, Copilot empowers users to focus more on content quality and less on the technicalities of content management systems.

Enhancing Engagement Through Design:

In addition to simplifying the creation process, Copilot also assists in enhancing the visual appeal of SharePoint pages. By converting existing documents or presentations into beautifully designed web pages, Copilot ensures that the content not only delivers the intended message but also engages the audience effectively through professional, eye-catching design.

thumbnail image 3 captioned The new SharePoint start makes it simple to create SharePoint content.

Security and Privacy Considerations:

Despite its advanced capabilities, Copilot in SharePoint operates within Microsoft’s stringent security and privacy framework. This ensures that while leveraging AI to enhance content creation, the integrity and confidentiality of organizational data are never compromised.

Unveiling the Distinctiveness: Microsoft SharePoint Vs Other Platforms

SharePoint vs. OneDrive

While both SharePoint and OneDrive are Microsoft products that allow for document storage, they serve different purposes and have different features. OneDrive is essentially an online folder system for file storage, but SharePoint includes many other features such as collaboration, CMS, and more.

  • 📂 OneDrive is designed for individual use, with each user having their own personal storage space. It's perfect for storing personal documents or files that aren't meant to be shared with others.
  • 🌐 SharePoint, on the other hand, is designed for collaboration. It allows for creating sites and sub-sites within an organization where files can be stored, organized, and shared.
    Join SharePoint in a Day Workshop

SharePoint vs. Google Drive?

While SharePoint and Google Drive may seem similar on the surface, they are actually quite different. Both offer cloud storage and collaboration tools, but how they integrate with other tools and their functionality varies significantly.

  • 🗄️ Google Drive is primarily a storage service, similar to OneDrive, but it also allows for real-time collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • 🔄 SharePoint is a much more robust platform. It includes document storage and collaboration and has more advanced features like workflow automation, customized app creation, and extensive content management capabilities.
  • sharepoint image of dashboard

Now that we've explored some of the differences between SharePoint and other tools, let's look at SharePoint licensing and how it can fit into your organization's budget.

Getting Started: SharePoint Licensing Options

There are a few different options for SharePoint licensing, including two online solutions or an on-premise solution. Below, we’ve outlined these three options and explained them in greater detail:

  • SharePoint Online Plan 1:

This is the Cloud-based version of SharePoint. It can be offered as a standalone product or bundled through various Office 365 licenses. There are a number of different packaged options through SharePoint Online, allowing you to choose which of the SharePoint server features you want to have access to.

A Quick Note about SharePoint Online: This is the Cloud-based version of SharePoint. It does not require you to install anything on your current server, and you can access it from anywhere at any time.

  • SharePoint Online Plan 2:

With the SharePoint Online Plan 2, you will have access to a full-featured SharePoint Online with enterprise capabilities, including all the benefits of SharePoint Online (Plan 1) plus more; Content Management, Search Functions, In-Place Holds, and Advanced Data Loss Prevention (DLP), which helps you identify, monitor and protect sensitive information.

  • Office 365 E3:

With the Office 365 E3 license, you will have access to the power of Office applications with advanced services for messaging, document sharing, compliance, and management features for IT. Aside from the standard features, you’ll also have access to business solutions (like Access Services), application integration, and business intelligence tools like PowerApps and Power Automate to help you make repetitive tasks easy with workflow automation.

This enterprise license will give you access to all the above, plus advanced scenarios for business intelligence, application integration, and Office services.

A quick note about SharePoint On-Premise: This is the latest on-premise version of SharePoint. If you want to implement this in your organization, you must have your IT team, a Microsoft partner, or a licensed SharePoint distributor install this on your current server for you. Although on-premises, your SharePoint Server can be accessed through mobile devices by downloading SharePoint Mobile Apps from your app store.


SharePoint is more than just a cloud-based content collaboration and management platform; it's a tool that can revolutionize how your organization communicates, collaborates, and operates. From secure content storage and real-time collaboration to advanced automation workflows, SharePoint provides an all-in-one solution for your business needs.

Whether you're comparing SharePoint to OneDrive or Google Drive, it's important to remember that each platform has its strengths and is designed to serve different purposes. SharePoint stands out for its extensive features that go beyond simple file storage, offering a more comprehensive solution for businesses.

Right to Play, a global non-profit organization, improved its staff’s access to necessary resources and tools by utilizing SharePoint.

Key Benefits:

Improved Access: Employees are using Office 365 and SharePoint, which give them the necessary tools to access the resources and materials they use when teaching children.

Increased Data Security: Right To Play utilized Windows 10’s biometric security to keep their data more secure, addressing the security issues that inevitably came up from having many employees working abroad.

Cost Savings: As a not-for-profit organization, Right to Play enjoys the benefits of Microsoft’s reduced cost structure for qualified nonprofits.



Read more Case Studies >>

Published by Hyun-Jin Im February 13, 2024